Notre Dame's Woo ready for the next challenge

Author: Margaret Fosmoe

Somewhere between helping build shelters for hurricane victims in Haiti and visiting a school for deaf children in war-torn Afghanistan, Carolyn Woo realized her life's path was heading in a new direction.

She felt a strong pull to work personally with the world's poor and suffering people, and to serve them. "They have dreams, they have hopes, they have fears," said Woo, who is looking forward to her next big challenge.

Woo, 57, is stepping down after 14 years as dean of the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business. Thursday will be her last day at the university.

On Jan. 3, she'll start her new job as president and chief executive officer of Catholic Relief Services, an international relief agency based in Baltimore.

At a time in life when many high-profile academics look forward to retirement and teaching a class or two, Woo will be leading an agency with 5,000 employees working in about 100 nations. She'll spend half her time traveling and helping in some of the world's poorest and most dangerous regions.

Woo served on the board of Catholic Relief Services from 2004 through 2010, and her experiences with the agency convinced her she wanted to get involved full time.

During Woo's 14-year tenure, the Mendoza College has grown in size and reputation.

In both 2010 and 2011, Mendoza was named the nation's top undergraduate business school in Bloomberg BusinessWeek's annual rankings.

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